Mental Health Awareness may have just happened and, every week is a fantastic opportunity for employers to address the issue of wellbeing in the workplace. The daily pressures of work can have an impact on work performance. In fact, wellness initiatives at work increase productivity by up to 12%.
Companies that want to attract and retain committed employees need to begin by prioritising their health. Ultimately, people with poor mental and physical health cannot perform at their peak. The recent “Thriving at Work” report brought this fact into focus. It shows that poor mental health costs UK organisations between £33 and £42 billion each year. Knowing the facts about well-being is the first step to a stronger high-performance team.
1. 12.5 Million Working Days Were Lost Due to Work-Related Stress, Anxiety, or Depression in 2016-17
The focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week was “stress.” Research shows that up to two-thirds of people experience a mental health problem at some stage. Stress is a key factor in the rise of mental health concerns.
Researchers from the Yale Stress Centre found that regular stress can affect brain performance. Consistent stress causes the prefrontal cortex of the brain to start shutting down.
The prefrontal cortex is the part that regulates blood pressure and heart rate. This section also helps us to learn, concentrate, and make decisions. For a more focused team, employers need to address the issue of stress in the workplace. At Change Recruitment, we offer an “EAP” (Employee assistance plan) to help staff and their families discuss their thoughts and feelings around stress. An open approach to the topic of mental health can lead to an important cultural shift in the way businesses deal with stress.
2. Mental Health Costs the UK £70bn a Year. That’s Equal to 4.5% of GDP.
Mental wellbeing may present a greater concern to companies than health and fitness. According to the Health at Work Report, 84% of managers acknowledge their responsibility in helping with employee mental health. Additionally, 91% of managers say that what they do affects their staff. Despite this, only 24% of leaders have any training in mental health.
At Change Recruitment, we give our employees access to counselling support and training to address this unmet need. It does, however, highlight that senior leaders need to take more initiative in the fight against anxiety and depression. Simple changes in company culture and the approach to wellness can make a big difference.
For instance, companies can implement:
· Flexible working times that allow staff time to make appointments with therapists
· On-site counselling and stress support
· An open-communication strategy that helps people talk about overwhelm
Addressing the problem of mental health may also mean addressing entrenched work patterns and unhelpful behaviours in the company. For instance, if team members believe the company expects them to start work early and leave late, this may create a persistent state of stress.
3. Only 2 in 5 Employees are Working at Peak Performance
Commitment to better workplace wellbeing isn’t just good for employees; it’s lucrative too. Wellness initiatives lead to healthier staff, which means critical team members take fewer days off sick, and perform better when they are at work. Implementing and communicating plans for physical and mental health empowers people to be their best. The evidence shows that employers need to provide their staff with a community that enables healthier work. Open conversations about mental and physical health and plans for regular care are essential.
Additionally, it’s worth routinely monitoring wellbeing to understand the unique risk factors for your company. At Change Recruitment, we decided to relaunch our healthcare benefit across the business which includes gym benefits and discounts. However, we know this alone wasn’t enough and want to encourage our team to actively participate. Enter the Summer Fitness Challenge between May and September to encourage active lives and some friendly competition between offices and teams. Staff are being asked to contribute ideas and we plan further initiatives. What initiatives have your company in place? We would love to learn from your experiences and ideas.